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‘Neverland Lost’ – A Review

We have received a great review of the book ‘Neverland Lost’ by Kate Allen which she would like to share with you all.

‘Neverland Lost – A Portrait of Michael Jackson’ by Henry Leutwyler

Review by Kate Allen

This book began with portrait photographer Henry Leutwyler being commissioned to take one picture of one item – Michael Jackson’s single white glove. He arrived at his appointed venue to find a warehouse full possessions belonging to the King of Pop, all packed up in boxes and stored away waiting to be sold off by Julien’s Auctions. The pictures he took over February and April 2009 now makeup this book; a still-life documentation of the trinkets that once decorated Neverland Ranch.

Many of the items in the sixty-five pictures of this book will be recognisable to many from the Michael Jackson Exhibition held at the O2 (from October – February 2009/10), but rather than viewing these artefacts from an allocated distance, this book allows for closer examination of the items that filled Michael’s home and wardrobe. Close-ups of jackets designed by Bill Whitten bring the intricately sequinned sashes and glittering gold buttons of Jackson’s attire into pristine focus, and the wear and tear of onstage garments is evident, with make-up stains on shirt collars, and rhinestones coming loose from shoes and socks. It is these signs of use and life that give the impression of sentimental value to the items pictured, as opposed to the images of Michael’s furniture packed away in boxes, and toys carelessly strewn upon bubble wrap, providing the cold feeling of mere props from the greatest show on Earth now no longer in use.

The most striking discovery to be found in this book is the simplicity of many of Michael’s possessions; Leutwyler refers to this as ‘dime store simplicity’ which, for him, ‘evoked… a deep sadness.’ However, I would suggest that the remarkably uncomplicated nature of Michael Jackson’s belongings is far from saddening, but instead endearing: the basic stitching and fabric of Michael’s sequinned glove shows he needed nothing more than his talent and presence to turn the unassuming commodity into a revered symbol of showmanship and performance. Just as images of small porcelain figurines of Mickey Mouse, cherubs and Wizard of Oz characters entail that the towering Ferris wheel and other fairground rides on the grounds of what was once Michael’s sanctuary were not just for show – inside of his home, down to the smallest and most unextarordinary knick-knacks he was surrounding himself with the items of a childhood lost.

Is this a must-own for fans? Well considering the price of the catalogues being sold by Julien’s Auctions featuring the same (and many more) items, yes. But due to this being published posthumously there is an overriding feeling of loss and neglect attached to the images. Therefore not a must-have, but certainly worth a look…

Source: MJWN with special thanks to Kate Allen

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